FFP. Farcical. Fantastical. Piffle.
Sorry, I meant Financial Fair Play. In football’s long list of mnemonics, this is the most laughable.
The sport has a predilection for introducing rules and regulations, then doing bugger all to enforce them with any real gusto.
FFP is its current pièce de résistance, although VAR is giving it a run for its money.
Financial Fair Play, alongside its smaller, more runt-like cousin the ‘fit and proper person test’, are two examples of football saying something that has apparent meaning and then attaching very little actual meaning to them.
FFP was introduced to try to bring stability into the funding and structures of clubs.
The irony of it is that football’s version of governance is based upon how much clubs are actually allowed to lose.
Recently we’ve seen another sport illustrate the way they regulate.
The Rugby Premiership levied a set of sanctions on Saracens as robust as they get — almost draconian — for breaching salary-cap rules.
The champions were fined £5.4million and docked 35 points. They have also now been asked to open their finances up in real time.
Saracens’ annual turnover is £17m, while it is an average of £170m at Premier League clubs.
With a like-for-like punishment, Premier League clubs would be fined £55m for breaches.
In terms of points, in rugby it is four points for a win and two for draw — so the 35 points would equate to 25 points in football.
If that kind of hardline sanction was introduced in football, you’d see teams dropping out of the Champions League places, plummeting down the table and facing the threat of relegation.
How does the world’s biggest sport compare to rugby? And how seriously do clubs take FFP?
Manchester City, a club funded by Middle Eastern money with soft influence perhaps at its heart, has had serious allegations of completely ignoring FFP not once but twice.
They were found guilty of one breach, fined £49m — with £32m of it suspended — as a result of Uefa sanction in 2014.
They are now up on another charge, this time the allegation of classifying money from the owner as sponsorship money, which creates a method of reducing losses and, ultimately, complying with FFP.
The response from the Premier League champions was to unsuccessfully apply to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to strike out the investigation as they don’t want to recognise the authority of Uefa.
If found guilty, what will happen? Expulsion from the Champions League?
Actually, probably not.
But this isn’t just Man City. Years ago Real Madrid sold a piece of wasteland at a ridiculous price to prop up their finances to comply with Champions League financial requirements.
Paris Saint-Germain were sanctioned in the same way as City in 2014.
QPR were fined £42m despite claiming FFP was unlawful — even though they signed up to the rules. The £42m involves a £17m fine payable over ten years and the other £25m has to be shareholder loans converted into shares.
That means nothing as the shareholders will get that back when they sell QPR.
Most recently we have seen Derby avoid any potential FFP punishment after selling their stadium for twice its previously valued price to the club’s owner, Mel Morris, then leasing it back via cute accountancy manoeuvres.
There are rafts of other clubs with similar thinking.
So does football take regulations and the financial health of the industry seriously?
Does it have serious governance that enforces it for the wellbeing of the sport?
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It pays lip service. But then again if the rulemakers have been the likes of Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini, perhaps it is understandable.
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This post written by Anthony Chapman originally appeared on Football news - transfers, fixtures, scores, pictures | The Sun. Read the full post here.